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Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Portsmouth Harbor LighthouseNew Castle, NH
Built in 1877, 48 feet

New Hampshire's only mainland lighthouse has a long history and extraordinary scenery at the mouth of the Piscataqua. Visitors may now tour inside on special days.

Jeremy's Lighthouse Guide #1

 

 

 

 

 

SEE: Inside the Lighthouse with Jeremy

You may know it as Fort Point Light, Fort Constitution Light or even New Castle Light, but officially it’s always been Portsmouth Harbor Light. The design of this cast iron tower was common for the time it was built (1877). It is not especially tall -- just 48 feet-- as lighthouses go. Yet its classic good looks and photogenic setting near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, just offshore from the granite walls of Fort Constitution, has landed it on the covers of countless books and guides.

Its history isn’t so shabby, either. The first lighthouse at this location, erected in 1771, was made of wood and was the 10th of eleven light stations established in the colonies before the American Revolution, and the first lighthouse north of Boston. The last official keeper of the station was Elson Small, who left in 1948. His wife Connie went on to write the popular book The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife.

The Coast Guard still maintains the active light and foghorn, but a couple of years ago they granted a license to the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) to care for the tower and to open it for the public. A chapter of ALF, the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, now holds monthly open houses from May through October. Not only do visitors get an intimate look at a 19th century structure and its lens (made in Paris), but they also get one of the best possible views of the surrounding area.

About Jeremy
For a detailed HISTORY of Portsmouth LIght see Lighthouse.cc
Copyright 2004 by Jeremy D'Entremont, New England Lighthouses

Fort Point Lighthouse

Fort Constitution Lighthouse

Color photos by Jeremy D'Entremont.
1880;s illustration courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum

 

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Monday, November 20, 2017 
 
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